RED-S: Why you might NOT be performing as your best as an athlete

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Relative Energy Deficiency In Sport (RED-S)

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) is a syndrome which results in impaired physiological functioning of metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis and cardiovascular health.

Here our new Dietitian Ali shares some important information about this topical phenomenon in sport and the athletic/active population.

How does RED-S occur?

RED-S occurs when an individual does not consume enough energy through food to meet not only the demands placed on it by the exercise but also optimal body function such as recovery and repair after training, a regular menstrual function (if female) and/or the development of healthy hormones.

Sometimes it can be that training volume or intensity has increased and the athlete has also been unable to match this with an increase in their dietary intake. Other times, an athlete can be restricting their intake during to disordered eating or body image concerns.

Intentional or unintentional, when intake is not matched to training load, it is of health consequence/concern and there can be severe impacts upon performance.

What are some of the performance consequences of RED-S?

  • Decreased endurance performance

  • Increased injury risk

  • Decreased training response

  • Impaired judgement

  • Decreased co-ordination

  • Decreased concentration

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Decreased gylcogen stored

  • Decreased muscle strength

Signs and symptoms to look for?

  • Disordered eating or diagnosed eating disorder

  • Menstrual dysfunction (i.e., losing period frequently)

  • Stress fractures

  • Weight loss

  • Lack of growth and development

  • Decreased performance

  • Mood disorders

How do we treat RED-S?

Treatment can be highly individualised and depends on several factors. All of our dietitians are familiar with RED-S recovery and already working with many athletes who have experienced complications with the above. Sound like you or your active child?

You can book an initial sports consultation here

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